The SURG-Africa team is very proud of working closely with our partners to strengthen research capacity locally, and to support early career researchers in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia. We congratulate and celebrate together with Judith Munthali and Musonda Mubanga on their recent graduation from the MSc in Public Health at the University of Zambia.
In SURG-Africa we work to bring safer and more accessible surgery to district areas in sub-Saharan countries. We believe mentoring and supervision is essential to achieve this. It is needed not just in surgical practice, but also in research to produce evidence for informed decision-making. Our senior researchers invest time and resources to support and assist students and professionals in the region, to strengthen their skills and knowledge. Judith and Musonda´s achievements are just one example of the way in which SURG-Africa translates abstract concepts such as local capacity strengthening into a reality.
“This Masters has set a base for my career in the field of Academia”, Musonda says. “I am currently lecturing on courses at the University of Lusaka within the field of public health. With the mentorship and advice I got from my mentors and supervisors, I have been able to emulate them as I supervise my students in research work. I aim at doing my PhD and still engaging my mentors.”
For Judith, the masters has provided her with a scientific understanding of issues regarding her work as a chief nurse in an ophthalmology tertiary hospital. This also allows her to identify researchable topics in her line of work. “I want to continue conducting research whenever funding is available”, she remarked.
The research topic chosen by Musonda, was Factors associated with waiting time for patients scheduled for elective surgical procedures at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Zambia, an area that Musonda defines as “mostly neglected” in her country. Findings from her research, identified the lack of blood from the blood bank and insufficient operating theatre time as significant determinants, amongst others, of longer waiting times.
The topic of Judith’s master-thesis was Factors related to utilization of the surgical safety checklist at the university teaching hospitals in Lusaka, Zambia. Her findings show that there is a certain reluctance from the team to attend the training on Surgical Safety Checklist utilization, and also a “resistance to utilize the tool by senior team members”. To address these issues, she presents an overview on barriers and enablers to the use of checklists in their hospital “upon which potential changes, strategies and interactions can be developed” she explained.
In the article Global Surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare and economic development, The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery states that “surgical and anaesthesia care must become an integral component of health care and health systems in low and middle-income countries”, as a way to achieve “universal access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care when needed”. SURG-Africa has been putting its energy and effort into this very same premise, assisting health professionals with improving their knowledge and experience, in their countries of origin. And, as a research project, SURG-Africa acknowledges that research is an additional essential component of health systems, which “is needed to identify innovative and effective practices for training, education, monitoring, expansion, and retention of all members of the surgical workforce", as The Lancet commission asserts.
“The support I got from my mentors was outstanding”, recalled Musonda. “They guided me throughout the research process, from its inception to the publication of the paper. I will be forever grateful.” The SURG-Africa team has been lucky to work with such outstanding researchers. Thank you both!